Something Creepy This Way Comes…

No, not that guy from the next block, the one who alternates between asking if you know Jesus and inviting you to vote for Eugene V. Debs for president.

If you think that “The Dinosaurs” from Carnival of the Animals sounds like this, well… you are quite correct.

Berlioz may have been thinking of the Dance of Death, the Totentanz paintings showing a long line of kings, peasants, bishops, farm women, merchants, knights, beggars, all led by skeletal forms explaining that all must die no matter their rank or station.

But the dead are not the only ones dancing… the “Kindly Ones” also have their time.

But these are not what most people think of as classical music for Halloween. No, it is either Leopold Stokowski’s orchestration of Bach’s Tocata and Fugue in D minor, or a piece of music actually inspired by Walpurgisnacht, and illustrated with the Russian legends about Chernobog.


Good Morning, Instapundit Readers! Have a spooky and well-watered Halloween.

Drink more water. I know this. I forgot this. I am now nursing a cracked thumb.

On average I need at least 100 ounces of water and other non-sweet, non-milk liquids a day. I live in a dry climate, and I happen to be “wetter” than a lot of people. I am not diabetic or pre-diabetic. I just need a lot of water to be happy.

Last week I ran low. Continue reading

Overheard in the Halls: Part 13

Frantic Freshman: I know, we can all duck into the men’s room.

Second Frosh: Yeah, because I know he’s not happy with us.

Fresh-girl: No, no, he’s not.

Miss Red: What did you do to the computer this time?

Fr. Fr.: Nothing, Miss Red. We all flunked the chemistry quiz.

Miss Red: That would be a problem yes.

If you are wondering, I went and advised Mr. Fizz of their plan. Yes, I am mean that way.



Sr. Scholastica and Fr. Romanus were acting as traffic control, making sure that all the high school students went to the assembly instead of study hall or “elsewhere.” Mrs. Verbum and I chivied some reluctant seniors up the hall, with Br. Vector riding drag.

Fr. Romanus [as the last unhappy soul dragged past] They’re being very good today. [thoughtful pause] What would we do if all the students were perfect?

Sr. Scholastica: Panic.

[Sound of faculty laughter and nods of agreement.]


Munch munch munch.

Mr. Long-Slavic-Last-Name: More sauce, sir?

Fr. Pax:  Yes, please.

Munch, munch, munch.

Silence filled the work room, occasionally interrupted by the sound of a chair scraping or a sauce bowl being passed up and down the table. A wonderful, generous, loving, wise, talented set of parents had donated supplies and Mr. Pascal had made… smoked ribs. Magnificent, smokey, perfectly done ribs. Teachers came in, saw the feast, got a plate, ate, and just savored the food. No one spoke, we all concentrated on the meat. I’ve never seen or heard anything like it.


I was in the other workroom, trying to persuade the secondary copier not to have a migraine, when the basketball coach came in.

Coach Reticulated: Your name came up during basketball practice, Miss Red.

Me [blinking]: Oh?

Coach R: Yes. We announced cuts to the team and I told Jr Coach [a freshman] that she’d have to tell the people. She said, “No problem, sir. I can excommunicate them.”

We look at each other and both start laughing.

Coach R: Medieval history or religion class?

Me: Medieval history. Apparently the dispute between Gregory VII and Henry IV stuck.


E-mail from Sr. Hygiene hits my box. The heading is “Don’t Shoot the Messenger”. The main copier was down again.

Bonifice and Lioba or It Takes a Saxon

October 22 is the feast of St. Lioba Abbess. She is one of those saints who predates the official system of canonization, as is St. Boniface. Both were Saxons from Wessex who went to the Wild East to convert/reconvert/keep from backsliding the continental Saxons in the generation before Charlemagne. They are an interesting pair and show some of the difficulties Christianity faced in northern Europe. And they both must have wondered on occasion if “…make disciples of every nation” really applied to Saxons and Danes, or if there was an exception clause somewhere. Continue reading

If Flood Gage Under Water…

or Why Amarillo’ Police Department has a Dive Team.

By all common sense, Amarillo should need a police high-water rescue team about as much as does, oh, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. However, almost from the beginnings of highways and paved roads, the city had an underpass problem. We have a number of rather steep, deep underpasses because the railroad tracks came first, and then the roads were dug out from under them when traffic became too heavy. And these underpasses catch water. Continue reading

October ’18 State of the Author

A bit numb, because I finished the draft of Merchant and Empire on Saturday.  Now I’ve got to catch up on Day-Job reading and polish some things because academic competitions are starting to kick in, and I need to have students ready to go in January.

At the moment, the writing plan is to focus on Miners and Empire for November and get 50K words done on it. Since I average 2000 words per day, it is doable. A lot of the scenes and story are already in my mental files ready to go, and I have all the technical data on hand. For those who liked “The Scavenger’s Gift,” this is set in that area. It looks at how cities become free cities, and how society balanced competing interests, in this case farmers and miners. Continue reading

Think, Thought, Thwim?

Due to having a graduate degree that is perhaps best described as “eclectic,” I took a number of classes outside the standard history curriculum. Now, I was not the only one—one student commuted to the state veterinary school to take a course on “Equines and Man” that was a history of horses, mules, and donkeys, and we had people in the business and hard sciences courses. However, I was the only one who ended up learning surveying and how to measure stream flow. Continue reading